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ss nucleus - Easter 2010,  child's fictitious illness created by his mother

child's fictitious illness created by his mother

A mother was recently sentenced to 39 months in prison after fabricating her son's lifelong illness.

Lisa Hayden-Johnson's son spent the first six and a half years of his life being investigated by specialists from Bristol to Great Ormond Street; his supposed illnesses included cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, an allergy to sunlight, and diabetes. His mother also claimed that he couldn't swallow so he was fed through a tube.

Mrs Hayden-Johnson misled doctors, family and friends by forcing her son to sit in a wheelchair, making him breathe with the aid of an oxygen cylinder and spiking his urine with glucose. At the age of four he had a PEG tube fitted because he was seriously underweight. These fictions gained Mrs Hayden-Johnson and her son a large amount of attention and support, including meetings with Tony Blair and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Eventually it was uncovered that the problems Mrs Hayden-Johnson claimed her son suffered from were fictitious, the result of a form of child abuse called 'Munchausen Syndrome by proxy' where a parent (usually the mother) fabricates or induces illness in their child, seemingly simply to gain medical attention. In this case there were also considerable financial rewards with £130,000 claimed in benefits.

Mrs Hayden-Johnson's son is now eight and has been given a new identity. He is said to have been perfectly healthy since his removal from his mother.

(bbc.co.uk 2010; 22 January, timesonline.co.uk 2010; 23 January, Abdulhamid I. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, emedicine.medscape.com)

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